Higher education leaders expressed the desire for stronger collaboration among the private and public sector in order to better prepare and train students for the workforce of the future.

At the Crain’s “Future of New York City Conference,” panelists from leading educational institutions in the city said these kinds of partnerships can offer the internships or other kinds of opportunities will be critical in preparing students to compete for higher paying and skilled jobs.

“We have to find a way to tap into the unbounded talent of kids who didn’t grow up in families where they would have learned at the dinner table or through their summer camps…how to navigate opportunity in the world,” said Jamshed Bharucha, President of Cooper Union.

The higher education industry makes up 4.1 percent of the city’s workforce; a total 120,000 jobs, and nurtures skilled labor in emerging industries.

“Most constructive cooperative arrangements require student, colleges, and business, conversation prior to, during, and after the internship,” said David Bloomfield, a professor of Educational Leadership at the CUNY Graduate Center. “Often, there isn’t enough time built into these programs for those extensive and necessary conversations.”

PENCIL is one nonprofit organization that has spent more than a decade focused on developing ongoing collaborations between business partners, students, and K-12 schools. The organization is currently ran by David Weiner, who was also a former Deputy Chancellor at New York City’s Department of Education under Mayor Bloomberg.

Weiner said that PENCIL is focused on fostering relationships with the city’s tech industry and recently launched a new partnership between LinkedIn and a Brooklyn public school nearby their office.

“One principal once told me that having the business partners, a bunch of men and women working in a cooperations, coming in [to their school] with suits, and working with the kids on their college applications… was a very memorable experiences for the students,” he said. “It kind of serves as a field trip within the school. The kids get really excited about it. They feel like they get a great mentorship.”

In order to make effective partnership, Weiner’s advice is to be as transparent as possible.

“I think that setting up clear goals and expectations for the school and the business partner that will then come to fruition over the course of the year is one of the key ingredients in making sure that it is a successful partnership,” said Weiner.

Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio launched the New York City’s School Renewal program which is investing $150 million dollars of tackling the city’s failed schools through a wide-ranging community collaboration; a similar approach panelists are envisioning.

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